- US Small Business Administration (www.sbaonline.sba.gov) – Tips on financing, business start-up, SBA services and more.
- SCORE Counselors (www.score.org) – Get free business mentoring from SBA’s Service Corp. of Retired Executives. A chapter is located in most cities.US Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) – Information as well as rules and regulations.
- US Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) – Information as well as rules and regulations.
- U.S. Business Advisor (www.business.gov) – Site sponsored by the SBA exists to provide businesses with one-stop access to Federal Government information, services and transactions. Has good business resource library and provides information about business development, financial assistance, taxes, laws & regulations, and international trade.
- Edgar Online (www.edgar-online.com) – Retrieve all government filings (10ks, 10qa and more) made by public companies and general SEC information.
- IRS (www.irs..gov) – Information and tax forms. Publication 583 – Starting a business and keeping records. IRS Code Section 162 – clarifies what can and cannot be deducted.
- Bankrate.com (www.bankrate.com) – Compare credit card deals.
Not everyone who starts and runs a business begins with a business plan, but it certainly helps to have one. If you are seeking funding you will most definitely need one that is well thought out and contains sound business reasoning. Even if you do not need funding a business plan will help you to think through and clarify all aspects of your business and test the viability of your idea.
A business plan should prove that your business will generate enough revenue to cover your expenses and make a satisfactory return. Below you will see the main sections of a business plan. What you want to show is a well thought out idea, clear and concise writing, a clear and logical structure that shows management’s ability to make the business successful and profitable
- Executive Summary–features the highlights of your plan and sells your idea in two pages or less.
- Company Summary–a factual description of your company, ownership, and history.
- Products (or Services or both)–describes your products and/or services and how they stand out from competitive products and services.
- Market Analysis-provides a summary of your typical customers, competitive landscape, market size, and expected market growth.
- Strategy and Implementation-describes how you will sell your product, how you will put your plan into action, and establishes milestones.
- Management Summary-provides background on the management team, their experiences, and key accomplishments.
- Financial Plan-contains key financials including sales, cash flow, and profits.
Looking at a blank computer screen as you prepare to start your business plan can be daunting. If this is what you are experiencing you may want to look at some alternatives that will make the process a bit easier. Business planning software such as Business Plan Pro can make this process easier and less painful by providing an outline while asking you the right questions that pull the most important underlying concepts within your business idea. I would highly recommend consider purchasing this software if writing a plan from scratch is not your cup of tea. It is probably one of the best business planning software packages available at a very reasonable cost.
Nolo Press Books are what I consider to be the best small business legal guides. They are practical and easy to understand with essential legal information.
Form your business structure online to save time & money. Most attorneys charge between $800 – $1500. The two most popular sites are Nolo (www.nolo.com) and Legal Zoom (www.legalzoom.com). These sites do not give legal advice. You may need to talk to talk with an attorney. For tax considerations in choosing a structure I recommend talking with an accountant or tax professional.
- Garage.com (www.garage.com) – Learn about venture capital and angel financing.
- Vfinance.com (www.vfinance.com) – A rich venture capital library with links to venture capitalists.
- VC Advice (www.vcadvice.org) – Forum that gives venture capital advice to the public.